Brian Hayes from the NGO’s charity the Educational Trust urges you as ‘wildlife wardens’ to spread the word by inviting others to see your work. In 2022 the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation celebrates its 25th anniversary so now is the time for all keepers to help get the message of gamekeeping and conservation working hand to hand together.
Members of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation will already know that gamekeepers understand conservation more than most and how gamekeeping and conservation are symbiotically linked.
The image of gamekeeping is changing with many estates already re-branding their keepers as ‘Conservation Managers’, ‘Wildlife Rangers’ or ‘Countryside Custodians’. The work that these keepers do on the ground, however, is not massively different – even though the job title might be. Gamekeepers have been sustainably managing land for conservation and protecting rare wildlife for many years. Now this message needs to get out.
The NGO Educational Trust has been working with an organisation called Countryside Learning to help rural estates to ‘spread the word’ on countryside matters since 1998. Countryside Learning takes around 30,000 children on countryside visits every year and the areas covered are food providence, the work of countryside managers (including gamekeepers) and the importance of nature and landscape. The organisation believes that the countryside will be better protected, and its way of life supported, if people understand its value; understanding its value starts with education. People are increasingly disconnected to rural life. If they are disconnected, they won’t care. We all need them to care to protect the future of rural life.
There is a large demand from schools for countryside visits. All Countryside Learning days (which are free for schools to attend) are fully booked. Working with partner organisations such as the NGO-ET (as well as the NFU, BASC, regional moorland groups and others), Countryside Learning educates children and inspires them. We all want children to be curious about the countryside and understand how management of the land affects wildlife and the different, often conflicting pressures in the countryside such as food production, maximising biodiversity and providing recreation.
The NGO-ET is urging estate owners and gamekeepers to host a ‘countryside classroom day’, with the support of Countryside Learning, to showcase the day-to-day conservation work being carried out by gamekeepers on lowland estates. If you are proud of the work you do and would like to spread the word, pleas contact the NGO-ET or Countryside Learning, who will help to devise a plan for your educational visit.